Working with numerous Junior Lawyers Divisions in the South East I often talk to groups of trainees and encourage them to take control of their career during their period of training. However in speaking with more senior lawyers throughout the last couple of years, I have gained perspective on how important it is to continue your career development post qualification in much the same vein.
One interesting strategy that has come up time and time again was to have a 12 month, 2 year and 5 year plan. The idea is to set a career orientated target for each interval, as well as a series of goals that will help you to achieve these targets. This could be absolutely anything but may include setting goals for the quality and calibre of work you want to deal with, moving towards a geographical location of interest, progressing at your current firm, or aiming to be in a firm with a particular sized team or type of culture.
Once you have set your goals it’s time to go about achieving them. The following outlines some useful tips I have picked up from lawyers who have successfully met various goals and targets—tangible advice that can help progress your legal career at any stage.
Day one business development
Get involved in business development early. This can range from training programmes, internal or external articles, to secondments and networking events. One individual I spoke with said, “It’s important to build contacts within client organisations at all levels. I take care to keep in touch with a range of people – drinks, events, even catch up calls - and this has led to lots of referrals. The more people I keep in regular touch with, the more likely they are going to send me work or recommend me."
Impress, impress, impress
Leave a positive impression on anyone and everyone you meet. External or internally, you should be looking to impress partners, associates, trainees, assistants and support staff from all teams. They can all be key to your development. Progression is based on performance and business strategy, but a number of lawyers have noted that you don’t always know who’s word carries weight with who and that there is always an element of “if your face fits.”
Talk to your firm
You are not the only person who has set goals for your development. Your firm will also have their own thoughts and strategies as to how to get the best out of you, and how to progress your growth. It therefore makes sense that you should be in open correspondence with your current firm to ensure that you have a clear understanding as to how to progress to the next level, as well as the criteria you have to meet in order to succeed. Successful lawyers constantly review their own goals/business plan against these criteria, and the best take active steps to work on any aspects necessary.
Keep detailed records
Keep an ongoing record of all the work you are involved in. This includes your billable & chargeable time, versus your targets, your profitability or utilisation rates, work you bring in, copies of any articles written and a note of any non-fee earning projects you have been involved in. This will make it easier come performance review time to justify why you deserve to take that next step towards achieving one of your targets, be it promotion, development or pay increase related.
And if you don’t get the promotion or pay rise you’re hoping for and you are not moving towards your targets, you may decide to look elsewhere. But the positive in taking the time to detail everything in this way means that updating your CV and collating information for interviews is much easier. Another great resource you can use at this time is me and my colleagues at Chadwick Nott. We are on hand to help with career advice, offer market reviews, and assist in any search you may have for legal jobs in the UK. Please do feel free to get in touch with us, whatever the scenario, to see how we can help! In the interim, best of luck with your targets and goals for the rest of 2018.
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